Photography BA (Hons)

About the course


On the Photography degree you are prepared for employment in a range of photographic professions which include commercial, client led practices such as advertising and editorial photography through to documentary photography and personally defined fine art photography, as well as related fields of employment such as production, picture editing, curating and gallery management.

The course encourages you to explore and evolve your own photographic vision and practice through a programme of workshops, seminars, lectures and work experience opportunities. Through a sequence of practical projects, you gain a range of technical skills and professional knowledge. Experimentation and risk-taking are encouraged together with the critical study of photographic histories, theories and contemporary practices.

The photography programme emphasises professionalism and industry relevance. The tutors and visiting lecturers are practising photographers or potential employers from the media industries such as agents, art directors, marketing professionals and curators.

Photography Gallery

Why choose this course?

  • This Photography degree is designed for those that want to work towards a career as a professional photographer or in related media professions.
  • The degree prepares you for employment in a range of photographic professions.
  • You'll explore and evolve your own photographic vision and practice.
  • Our tutors and visiting lecturers are practising photographers or potential employers.
  • Our student work is increasingly getting recognised within the photographic world. Our industry partners are high profile and recent student work placements include the prestigious photography agency Magnum. In addition, we have a number of interns working for the BBC.
  • View student work on Flickr

Entry requirements...

240 points from GCE A Levels (or equivalent) including a qualification in an art related subject plus GCSE Maths at grade D or above and English Language at grade C or above; Key skills are accepted as equivalent. Selection is based on a portfolio interview, after which you may be required to complete a Foundation Year or Foundation Diploma before progressing to the degree course.

The University also accepts a number of other equivalent qualifications including BTEC, IB and Access courses – to find out more about the requirements for these and  other equivalent qualifications please go to:

Our offer for the International Baccalaureate (IB) is made outside of the UCAS Tariff and is calculated by dividing our tariff point offer by 10 i.e. 280 UCAS points equals 28 IB points.

Study routes

  • Full Time, 3 Years
  • Part Time, 6 Years
  • Sandwich, 4 Years


  • University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield


Graduates are equipped to pursue a wide variety of careers including self employment as photographers in editorial, advertising, fashion, journalism, publishing; also in allied professions in multimedia, curatorial work, picture research and arts administration. Students might also go on to specialist postgraduate study.

Teaching methods

First Year

Following an induction week, you will learn the core areas of analogue and digital photography and digital image processes. This includes sessions on lighting, shooting in the studio and on location, digital work flow and how to retouch and manipulate images, technical theory and use of the darkroom. This is accompanied by group projects and presentations of studio/ location work. The study of the histories and theories of photography gives you a foundation to your photography practice both in class sessions and through written work.

You complete the first year with an emerging independent photography practice which relates to contemporary professional photography.

Second Year

During year two, you begin to define who you are as a photography practitioner, and to identify your professional goals. You respond to assignments and negotiated projects by considering professional concerns such as markets, audiences, clients and users of the photography industry.

Advanced photography and digital imaging skills are taught through lecture/demonstrations, workshop sessions and studio practice. This stage also introduces and develops your professional awareness and provides an opportunity to experience a 'live' working environment through regular contact with influential professional photographers. There is scope for work experience and study abroad in Europe or further afield.

Final Year

In the final year you develop a professional portfolio of photography with which to launch your career. The portfolio will show your professional versatility by including client led work alongside a self directed work which demonstrates personal vision, media expertise and high professional standards. You also write a dissertation or a report which identifies an area of contemporary professional practice relevant to your work.  

A key part of your final year study is learning how to operate as a freelancer, interact with clients and approach potential employers. This culminates in the presentation of your portfolio in the degree exhibition which is open to invited media industry employers and the public.

Work Placement

There is an opportunity to undertake a work placement in Photography. Previous work placements include Jamie Oliver Better Food Foundation, Nickelodeon, BBC, Magnum, Bauer, IPC, Gallery Stock and St James' Palace.

Study Abroad

This course offers you the opportunity to study abroad through the University's study abroad programme.
Study abroad opportunities are available worldwide and in Europe under the Erasmus+ Programme.
Find out more about Study abroad opportunities

Professional Accreditations

Skillset Media Academy


Year 1

Core Modules

  • Photography: Histories and Cultures

    This module takes a historical perspective to enable students to understand how photography and photographic artefacts are shaped by the social, political, economic, cultural and professional contexts in which they are made. It focuses on the cultural landscape of the 19th and 20th Centuries and the key individuals, artefacts and practices of photographic production that emerged during this time. A programme of lectures, seminars, tutorials and exhibition visits will introduce a series of perspectives on photography that begins with the invention of photography early in the 19th century and concludes with contemporary digital practices. Areas under consideration may include contemporary applications and industrial practices; the photographic medium within the context of visual and media culture; aesthetic practices and genre. Alongside discipline specific knowledge, students will develop skills in information handling and communication, skills in visual and critical analysis of both artefacts and ideas and deploy academic conventions of reference.

  • Photography Projects

    The practice of photography can be challenged and extended through experimentation, dialogue and debate leading to innovative visual solutions. This module aims to extend the breath and possibilities of the student photography practice and it involves an imaginative response to themes and concepts, encouraging students to develop research, selection and evaluation techniques. Students will examine a range of practices and the work of various practitioners. The module consists of a series of group workshops, during which the students will become familiar with alternative equipment and media used to create, generate, manipulate and process the visual image. The workshops will cover such activities as drawing, screen-printing, text as image and image and text together, photography and digital design software. Research work will be submitted in sketchbooks. During Photographic Projects, many activities will be completed in small teams. This will not only allow students an opportunity to discover the dynamics and conditions of team work, but it will also encourage students to discuss, debate and evaluate their thinking in the pursuit of a single, team based answer.

  • Digital Environment

    This module introduces processes of digital photographic image manipulation and management (such as Adobe Photoshop), together with associated research related to appropriation and debates on concepts of truth and reality, and photographic truth. Students will develop and explore technical skills and associated cognitive skills to formulate and realise responses to given thematic assignments. Students will gain understanding of the cultural resonances and legal obligations inherent within contemporary photographic practices.

  • Photography Practices

    This module introduces concepts and processes of still photographic and digital imagery, together with associated research, selection and evaluation techniques that can support studio and location practice. This is a practice led module using traditional and digital technologies. During your study time you will work with a range of photographic media as well as develop a broad range of photographic craft skills both in the studio and on location. Both film and digital camera workshops are essential to this module. There will be basic introduction sessions to all key equipment, materials and techniques for both film and digital photography, including the safe and effective use of dark rooms and specialist equipment such as lighting technologies. Effective time management is a key element of your work. The module also introduces you to various genres and practitioners of photography and you will also learn to optimise edit and select your images. Students will develop and explore technical skills and the associated cognitive skills to formulate and realise responses to given thematic briefs. A particular emphasis will be on safe and competent use of workshops and equipment. Ambient and studio light sources will be explored and an awareness and control of those will be taught for technical and aesthetics purposes.


Year 2

Core Modules

  • Year Abroad

    The Year Abroad will provide students in Creative Arts with the opportunity to expand, develop and apply the knowledge and skills gained in the first two taught years of the degree within a different organisational and cultural environment in a partner academic institution. The host institution will appoint a Programme Co-ordinator who will oversee the student's programme during the Year Abroad and will liaise with the appointed UH Supervisor.

  • Photography: Applications and Cultures

    This module aims to encourage students to see contextual studies as a vital tool to develop well-informed and innovative production practice in photography. A programme of lectures, seminars, tutorials, exhibition and industrial visits provides students with the opportunity to encounter a wide range of photographic practices and a selection of photographic and media theories, debates and critical perspectives to interrogate them. The module will focus on developing student’s understanding of critical debates around concepts such as representation, ideology, production, consumption and regulation that shape photographic aesthetics and cultures in relation to student’s specific pathways in photography across a wide range of applications. To complement discipline-specific studies, this module aims to provide students with a repertoire of study skills of research and enquiry, skills in visual and critical analysis of both artefacts and ideas and communications skills in written and verbal forms including the protocols of academic reference.

  • Negotiated Photography Projects

    This module aims to support students in establishing imaginative, confident, informed and accomplished use of selected media, together with associated planning, research and development strategies. At this stage students are encouraged towards increased depth and development within one or more aspects of the discipline, allowing for combined or specialist approaches as appropriate. This module confirms the ability of students to select, test, use and exploit appropriate Photographic processes to support their practice in the discipline. It will also require students to develop and communicate a rationale for their practice in the context of a broad range of relevant practical, professional, historical and critical discourses. Students will develop coursework in negotiation with staff, and will work individually and/or collaboratively.

  • Professional Development

    This module provides students with an opportunity to establish an informed approach to professional practice in Photography. Students are supported in identifying the broad spectrum of applicable areas for their career aspirations, and in developing strategies to present themselves for applications to commissioned or employed work with increased confidence. Outcomes typically include a body of research material and/or portfolios of practice with assessment both in presentations and in the production of material in the appropriate media.

  • Photography Assignments

    The module consists of a series of group workshops and focuses on photography practice. Students will further develop and refine practical, conceptual and transferable skills, and will have the opportunity to work individually and collaboratively. The module offers the students opportunities to further develop their skills in selection, evaluation and application of photography processes. Students work with professionals to set briefs, such as fashion shoots, photojournalism, portraiture, and photo-illustration projects, as well as workshops on cropping, framing, choice of point of view, and effective use of lenses. An editorial project will also be set on this module. Students will devise appropriate solutions, and develop skills in planning an outcome. Particular emphasis will be placed on developing the students ability to analyse and evaluate given and/or chosen environments for their practice. Students will be expected to be able to show their ability to propose a range of solutions, and to apply a critical approach to the selection of the eventual outcome(s).


Year 3

Core Modules


  • Year Abroad

    The Year Abroad will provide students in Creative Arts with the opportunity to expand, develop and apply the knowledge and skills gained in the first two taught years of the degree within a different organisational and cultural environment in a partner academic institution. The host institution will appoint a Programme Co-ordinator who will oversee the student's programme during the Year Abroad and will liaise with the appointed UH Supervisor.

  • Sandwich Year (Creative Arts)

    The optional 'Sandwich' placement year may be undertaken between the levels 5 and 6. Students undertake the placement within a commercial, public or not for profit setting that is able to provide an appropriate learning experience related to the creative and cultural industries. A placement could take a variety of forms, including: * working in an external organisation; * working with a University company or professional team within the University; * self-employment within defined context and externally refereed. The placement duration would typically be sustained for at least 48 weeks, though may be sustained for a full year. While the Faculty/School actively supports the placement process, ultimately it is the placement provider that will agree to manage and select students, normally through an interview process. During the placement a member of the academic staff will be assigned to the student as a tutor and will monitor the student's progress during the placement period.

Year 4

Core Modules

  • Critical and Cultural Studies L6: Degree Essay / Report (Visual Arts)

    Artists need to be informed practitioners who engage critically with their discipline, its history, and the ideas which inform it and how it is likely to evolve in the future. This module will enable students to conduct an in-depth enquiry into one or more aspects of Fine or Applied Arts or Photography with emphasis on the analysis of relevant social, cultural, economic, technical ,historical and aesthetic issues and on to the development of critically well informed arguments that are germane to students' interests and practice. The module content will be student-generated with an emphasis on independent learning. The student's enquiry will be supported through a programme of lectures, seminars and tutorials which will enable students to develop the following generic skills: research, organisation and planning, critical analysis, constructing an argument, communication and presentation including academic protocols. The assessed element of this module consists of a 6000 word essay, technical report or negotiated equivalent.

  • Enterprise and Employability in the Photographic Industries

    This module addresses the entrepreneur, entrepreneurship and its development. It will consider the individual in context, their nature and motivation and the character of enterprise in the media business. What is entrepreneurial behaviour and leadership; how are they understood and represented and in what ways can survival and growth be managed? The wide range of issues to be considered will include creation of opportunities and sources of new ideas. It will consider different entrepreneurial models and approaches to doing business and then consider the contribution made by business plans, serial and parallel venture creation and sources of advice. It will also look at aspects of special relevance to entrepreneurs with respect to entrepreneurial marketing, exploring networking, word of mouth and personal selling, as well as broader themes of significance such as the social context and support services.

  • Professional Portfolio

    It is essential that students develop the skills to market themselves to potential employers and clients. The creative industries employment sector has seen a huge growth in the number of graduates leaving with the appropriate qualifications and as such it has to be expected that employment may not happen instantly upon graduation and so a solid, realistic and forward looking strategy underpinning an approach to employment is essential. In this module students will engage in well-targeted research into 'best practice' examples of professional portfolios within their chosen Photography specialist areas. They will present and discuss these examples with fellow students and staff. They will seek to create their own individual style of portfolio presentation. They will produce high quality samples of work which display conceptual and technical skills and together form a memorable and coherent body of work.

  • Concepts and Planning

    This module offers students a period of enquiry to define an area of their personal interest in photography. Students negotiate their areas of research with staff. A body of visual research, rationalisation and study of practical feasibility culminates in the formal presentation of the 'Individual Proposal' document, and a log book. Students reflect and evaluate, and continue a process of contextualisation and practice. The module enables the student to write a formal 'Individual Proposal' document for the Major Degree Project, together with examples of appropriate practice. A series of seminars revisiting some of the debates around contemporary photography aesthetics takes place. This underpins the development of an informed personal aesthetic. This is to support students in the critical analysis of their project proposal, its realisation and critical analysis of their work and its integration of theory. Students are required to keep evidence of their practice-led research and idea development in a logbook which supports the integration of practice and theory. There will be a number of in progress reviews of the logbooks which are conducted by student led seminars.

  • Degree Major Project

    This module is an opportunity to pursue a sustained programme of photography practice as defined in the student's degree proposal. It represents the culmination of study for each student, and requires the self-directed management of practical, conceptual and professional issues. The outcomes from this module constitute a significant proportion of the Degree Exhibition work. In this module students have the opportunity to display the extent of their knowledge and understanding of photography. Students can engage in a period of sustained creative activity, offering a primary platform upon which to demonstrate their abilities and potential to a professional audience.


Fees & funding

Fees 2015

UK/EU Students

Full time: £9,000 for the 2015 academic year

Part time: If you decide to study this course on a part time basis you will be charged on a modular basis. The cost is £1,125 for each 15-credit module

International Students

Full time: £11,500 for the 2015 academic year

Discounts are available for International students if payment is made in full at registration

View detailed information about tuition fees

Additional course costs

In addition to the fees there are some compulsory course attached to this course:

Year 1
Workshop materials - £150-£250

Year 2
Workshop materials - £250-£350

Year 3
Workshop materials - £250-£350
Professional portfolio for industry - £150-£250


Find out more about scholarships for UK/EU and international students

Other financial support

Find out more about other financial support available to UK and EU students

Living costs / accommodation

The University of Hertfordshire offers a great choice of student accommodation, on campus or nearby in the local area, to suit every student budget.

View detailed information about our accommodation

How to apply


Start DateEnd DateLink
28/09/201520/05/2016Apply online (Full Time)
28/09/201520/05/2016Apply online (Part Time)
28/09/201520/05/2016Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)
28/09/201520/05/2016Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)


Start DateEnd DateLink
28/09/201620/05/2017Apply online (Full Time)
28/09/201620/05/2017Apply online (Part Time)
28/09/201620/05/2017Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)
28/09/201620/05/2017Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)